Hello! Vanakam! Ni hao! Selamat datang! Teng bong!
The last four are hello in Tamil, Mandarin, Malay and Kristang respectively. I hail from a very multi-cultural and multi-religious tiny Island city known as Singapore in South East Asia. So even though English is the official language ( spoken by Singaporeans & used as medium of instruction in schools), we have 3 other official languages; Mandarin, Malay & Tamil. You'll often see signboards in all the 4 languages or hear announcements in all 4 languages. That's coz Singapore is made up of Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians. But of course now, we have people from so many countries calling Singapore home!
I'm from an Indian Muslim background. We are Malayali's and speak English & Malayalam ( an Indian language) at home but I took Tamil as my second language in school. So by the time I was seven, I could speak three languages fluently. Singapore is a secular country and we have a great tolerance and respect for different races and religions. I'm considered a minority here as Chinese are the majority race in Singapore. And among the Indians, Malayali's, especially Malayali Muslims, make up a very small number.
I realize from my friends in the US & UK that race is not something that's often talked about. Here in Singapore race & religion are accepted as part of a person's identity. We are proud to be Singaporeans but we are also proud of our respective racial, religious, ethnic identities.
Coming from a secular & religiously diverse & tolerant country, my views on religion and God have changed a lot. Today, I would say I'm a free thinker. This is a term used in Singapore to describe people who do not follow one particular religion. Free thinkers accept and/or adopt parts of all religions.
I do tend to write about some serious stuff in a lighthearted manner and that's because I have experienced the things that I write about. So, if you see topics like abuse, mental health issues, dyslexia etc in my stories, rest assured that's coming from an ownvoices perspective.
My stories reflect my identity but it's also an avenue for me to explore my deep love for horror. Not a surprise, I'm Singaporean after all. Singapore is a super modern and sophisticated country but we Singaporeans hold our traditions, superstitions & urban legends very close to our hearts. As a kid, I grew up on diet of ghost stories and scary myths. I mean you guys have Halloween. That's one day. We have a month long Hungry Ghost festival. Beat that if you can :)
*I put some pics of Singapore below so you guys have an idea of how it is:)